Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Government cluelessness about the Time Value of Money

The issue with Gubmint large-scale anything which has to be built physically (as opposed to redistributed with a hefty ticket-clip) is that the entire public service has not Clue One about the Time Value of Munny.
Propose a project for $100m in Year 1, with an initial cost outlay (say, for Land) of $30m, Years 2-4 at $20m each nominal, and Year 5 at $10m, a WACC of 6%, a construction cost inflation rate of 9%, and a five-year schedule. The Guibmint wallahs then gape in wonderment as the thing (without contract variations) ends up costing $143.7m. Cumulative interest carry is $20.4m, construction inflated by CCI (which to be kind is limited to years 2-5 only) is $23.3m. So 100+ 20.4 + 23.3 = 143.7. The time value of munny....
This sort of non-thinking is absolutely rife through all levels of government. They never have to sell enough on Friday to make payroll on Wednesday following, never have to chase debts, never have to juggle cash flows to make the 20th of the month payments to creditors. Their world is literally cossetted: salaries arrive with the regularity of a sunrise, revenue falls into their ledgers like Sky Food off the edge of the bench for a dog, cash-flow is non-existent, and the only exception to this happy existence is IRD, who certainly know the Time Value on unpaid taxes....
Imagine, (strike up the John Lennon chorus about now) that Local Gubmint had to pay consent applicants the IRD UOMI rate on project value for every day they dragged the chain on the consent. Imagine... but enough already. T'will nevah happen.

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